Award-winning makeup artist Cheryl Gushue talks career success and her new, one-of-a-kind gig as Saks’ resident beauty guru
“I have not shown my résumé for any of the jobs I’ve had. It’s always been one thing leading to another, and I just ended up here,” says award-winning makeup artist Cheryl Gushue, recently appointed the beauty ambassador at the new Toronto Eaton Centre flagship of Saks Fifth Avenue Canada. The first twist in her career: getting hired as a demo for Lancôme in her mid-20s—back when she didn’t even wear any makeup herself.
“I had finished school for fashion design and went to work for Cosmair, which is now L’Oréal Canada. I worked the front desk, and they were hiring for a demo,” explains Gushue, who must have shown natural talent (after all, her mom also used to work the cosmetics counter for brands like Dior and Shiseido).
Being a demo sparked her beauty interests, and Gushue soon took a detour into the salon world, with stints at Fiorio and Capucci. She graduated from working reception to doing makeup, helping out on photo shoots and TV segments like Cityline. Her on-air chops caught attention: a producer from So Chic with Steven and Chris came calling, and Gushue went on to be a regular beauty expert on the show.
Now, she’s returned to her retail roots, but with a one-of-a-kind gig. The beauty ambassador concept is “a completely new role at Saks. Even Saks in the U.S. doesn’t have this position,” says Gushue, who has been named Makeup Artist of the Year several times (at the 2006 Contessas, and most recently at the 2015 Mirror Awards).
As an ambassador, she serves as a head-to-toe personal shopper; does makeup lessons, skincare consultations and store tours; assists clients at their homes; explains and recommends products from any brand on the cosmetics floor; and creates special events in partnership with vendors—basically, taking care of every beauty need.
The wide-ranging, open role fits the Saks vibe, which Gushue describes as “hotel hospitality meets retail.” It’s service with an exclusive, personal and increasingly high-tech touch (like iPads for clienteling). But Gushue’s goal is the same as ever: “There are so many choices. In the end, I just want the customer to have what they need and not feel overwhelmed.”